Yesterday evening, First Lady Michelle Obama hosted a screening of the highly anticipated film Hidden Figures. This film certainly does not need an introduction on this site; however, it tells the untold true story of the African American women mathematicians, Katherine Johnson, Mary Jackson, Dorothy Vaughan, Kathryn Peddrew, Sue Wilder, Eunice Smith and Barbara Holley, who worked at NASA during the Civil Rights era. The story revolves around these brilliant African-American women who served as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in U.S. history, the momentous launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit, and his safe return. Glenn flew the Friendship 7 mission in 1962, and became the first American to orbit the Earth. 95-year-old Glenn passed away last week.
Taraji P. Henson plays Katherine Johnson, Octavia Spencer plays Dorothy Vaughan, and Janelle Monae stars as the youngest member of the trio, Mary Jackson.
The cast, including Henson, Spencer, Monaé, and co-star Kevin Costner were in attendance alongside Pharrell, whose work on the film’s music landed him a Golden Globe nomination for Best Original Score. 97-year old Katherine Johnson, one of the women who inspired the film, was also a guest of honor.
During the screening, Mrs. Obama noted that Hidden Figures shows how diversity helps move the country forward. She stated that black mathematicians couldn’t use the same water fountains or bathrooms as their colleagues, and says their example shows that “you don’t come up with the right answer if everyone at the table looks the same and thinks the same and has the same experience.”
White House screenings over the past 8 years have ranged from historical films to animated comedies; however, it is very clear that the Obama’s film preference leans towards those that are socially and politically conscious. Last year, President Obama hosted a screening of Selma, the Martin Luther King Jr. biopic directed by Ava DuVernay. The screening was attended by the director, as well as cast members Oprah Winfrey and David Oyelowo. In 2013, the Nelson Mandela biopic, Long Walk to Freedom, starring Idris Elba, was screened in addition to Beasts of the Southern Wild, and 42, the Jackie Robinson biopic starring Chadwick Boseman.
As the Obama administration sadly comes to an end, Hidden Figures will be one of the last, if not the last film to be screened during one of the greatest Presidential eras in the history of our country.
Hidden Figures will premiere in select theaters on Dec. 25 and open nationwide on January 6, 2017.